Tiger on TV: 'The train wreck factor'

August 11, 2010

So it has come to this, viewers tuning in to televised golf not to see Tiger Woods dominate, but to bear witness to the crash element, according to this Hollywood Reporter story by Georg Szalai.

"How bad has it gotten for Woods?" Szalai asked. "The primary lure for viewers could be the 'train wreck' factor.

"'Woods is one of the few human brands,' said brand and engagement expert Robert Passikoff, who said the struggles of the nation's most well-known -- albeit severely tarnished -- sports icon could lift America's penchant for schadenfreude to new heights. Viewers could tune in, he said, 'just to see him suffer.'"

There is something to that. On Sunday, Woods had already completed the last of his 77 shots when CBS came on the air. Count me among those who still watched from the outset, knowing that the network would take us through many of those 77 shots, with commentary.

Of course, it's not a good business model. "CBS News and Sports president Sean McManus said this week that CBS 'can't control the form of players but always hopes for interesting story lines and tournaments that get decided on the final hole,'" Szalai wrote.

Ominously for the PGA Tour, McManus, according to Szalai, "expressed some disappointment that CBS has two more years before its current PGA contract expires given that its value may be hurt. 'We must monitor it closely and factor it in' when contract renewal talks start, he said about Woods' flame-out. 'The value (of the PGA) has been inflated in recent years because of Tiger.'"

-- John Strege